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What Does A Gastroenterologist (GI) Do And When To Approach Them? Learning and Expectations

what does a gastroenterologist do

The field of medicine known as gastroenterology concentrates on the liver and digestive system’s (GI tract) overall health. A range of morbidities from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) to hepatitis C can be treated by gastroenterologists. These gastroenterologists also do common procedures like colonoscopies, which allow you to see within your colon. After medical school, they receive specialized training for 5–6 years.

What does a gastroenterologist actually do?

GI disorders are generally diagnosed and treated by gastroenterologists (or GI doctors). Your primary care physician would probably advise you to visit a GI doctor to undergo a thorough evaluation of the problem if they discover something wrong with your GI tract. Endoscopic operations are carried out by gastroenterologists, who employ specialized tools to see the GI system and make diagnoses. Although they occasionally collaborate closely with GI surgeons, they do not undertake surgery themselves. Their primary places of employment are clinics and hospitals.

Most treatments involve taking either short- or long-term medications. However, if surgery is necessary, gastroenterologists may send the patient to a gastrointestinal surgeon. Endoscopy is one of the main procedures that a gastroenterologist does. It makes use of tiny, flexible tubes that may be introduced into the intestines and have a built-in video camera. This aids in the diagnosis of intestinal problems by enabling the clinician to examine the inside of the tract. Also, a gastrointestinal doctor does a colonoscopy to look for any polyps present or trace cancer cells in the colon.

Gastrointestinal Disorders

To determine whether a patient has a digestive condition, the following non-surgical techniques might be used:

  • Gastroscopies (to detect esophagus disorders, small intestinal disease)
  • hepatic biopsies (to evaluate liver inflammation)
  • ultrasounds used in endoscopy (to inspect the gastrointestinal tract)
  • Sigmoidoscopies (to assess intestinal pain/blood loss)
  • Endoscopies in capsules to inspect small intestines.

When to visit a gastroenterologist?

You may visit a GI doctor if you have issues with your health in the following areas so he would do multiple tests for:

  • Esophagus, the tube bridging the gap between your mouth and stomach;
  • Intestines
  • Pancreas
  • Liver
  • Bile duct;
  • Gallbladder;
  • Stomach;
  • Colon and rectum

Your primary care physician could also suggest you to see a gastroenterologist if you feel any difficulty with:

  • Swallowing
  • After swallowing, food comes back up
  • Heart burn
  • Severe or persistent diarrhea

There could be insignificant health issues or symptoms of something more serious for which a GI doctor can do several interventions. Gastroenterologists can accurately diagnose you using their knowledge and tools. They treat a variety of illnesses and disorders, such as:

  • Crohn’s illness
  • Inflammatory colitis
  • Hepatitis
  • An esophageal cancer
  • Colon polyps that might become cancerous

Gastroenterologists are learnt to carry out several procedures to have a thorough understanding of how food normally moves through the stomach and intestines, how nutrients are absorbed, how waste is eliminated from the body, and how the liver aids in the digestive process. Although the mouth is part of the GI system, gastroenterologists do not necessarily look into this region. Rather, dentists and dental experts concentrate on maintaining good oral health. Proctologists, who are experts in treating conditions of the rectum and anus, are distinct from gastroenterologists in another way.

What is a GI doctor and gastroenterology?

Gastroenterologists, sometimes known as “GI physicians,” are specialists in the digestive system’s function and treat disorders and illnesses of the digestive system. They are qualified to handle more than merely treating issues. They can also assist adults and kids in learning what has to be done to maintain a healthy system.

You may learn more about the training GI physicians get, what they perform, why you might be sent to one, and what to anticipate in terms of care by reading the material provided below.

The GI tract is the focus of the specialist field of medicine known as gastroenterology. Some gastroenterologists specialize on treating GI general conditions. Others concentrate on a specific branch of gastroenterology. Every hepatologist must be board-certified in both internal medicine and gastroenterology. Hepatologists are specialists in the diagnosis and treatment of illnesses of the liver, gallbladder, bile tree, and pancreas.

Qualification and prerequisites of a GI doctor:

The standard stages toward becoming a gastroenterologist are:

  • Four years of college
  • A 4-year medical program
  • A three-year residency program in internal medicine that entails working with knowledgeable gastroenterologists and receiving expert guidance
  • You need to do a 2- or 3-year fellowship after your residency to get additional specialized training in this area. This involves instruction on endoscopy, a nonsurgical technique used by physicians to investigate the GI system.
  • Following this training, you must be certified as a gastroenterologist by passing a specialized test. If you pass the exam, the American Board of Internal Medicine will certify you to do a clinical practice as a GI doctor.

When you should visit a GI doctor?

You could be referred to a gastroenterologist by your primary care physician if you:

  • Experience unexplainable blood in your stool,
  • Trouble swallowing,
  • Stomach discomfort; digestive problems, such as persistent diarrhea or constipation,
  • Persistent acid reflux or heartburn,
  • You may also want to visit a gastroenterologist for preventative treatment if you are over 50 years of age since you may have a higher risk of colon cancer,
  • You have to get tested frequently if you fall into this age category.
  • Ask your doctor when to begin screenings if you have a family member who has colon cancer.
See Also: Autism Spectrum Disorder and Gastrointestinal Issues

Lesson to take away:

Gastroenterologists are experts in digestive problems including IBS, ulcers, polyps, and persistent heartburn. These doctors have completed three years of medical school in addition to an extra five to six years of training.  Gastroenterologists typically do not undertake operations, but they may diagnose and treat a variety of GI disorders with the aid of endoscopic treatments.

If your primary care doctor notices that your digestion is compromised, if you have stomach pain, or if certain blood tests reveal increased levels, they will probably advise you to see a gastroenterologist.

Family Medicine Austin

Written by Jeannette

I am Jeannette, the medical writing specialist here at Family Medicine Austin. I have over five years of experience working with a range of medical and healthcare across the U.S.